…calls for intensive voter education
By Eseoghene Emuke
To ensure better electoral exercise come 2023, President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to sign the electoral act amendment bill no later than this year.
Immediate past governor of Delta state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan who also emphasized the need for rigorous voter education, made the call at the first Governor Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan Annual Public Lecture held at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Tuesday.
Uduaghan, an APC senatorial candidate in the just concluded general elections, while speaking on the topic, ‘Making Nigeria Elections Cleaner, Transparent and Credible,’ noted that Nigeria’s 20 years of uninterrupted democratic rule has been “a mixed bag” of progress and setbacks.
He highlighted factors which include voter education, assessment of persons seeking political offices, diversification of economy, judicial efficiency, improvement on the part of the electoral regulator, among others, as critical to having credible polls in the future.
Explaining that the intensity experienced during electoral contests is not unusual, the ex-governor posited that it is the breach of laws guiding the process that is the problem, adding that Nigeria’s crop of politicians are yet to embrace the “ideals of democratic system”.
Stating that all hands must be on deck to ensure credible elections, Dr. Uduaghan said “it just does not matter what measure is introduced by INEC, federal government by whoever or whatever, unless we are determined to play by the rule, to respect rules and order and to see politics as an opportunity to serve the people our electoral politics will remain a sham.”
“And so I am calling for intensification of voter education. Unless there is voter education that makes people aware of the self-harm in bargaining and selling their votes, we won’t be making as much progress as I think and believe we should.
“I should also say that when votes are sold and bought, the people are out rightly forgoing opportunities for jobs to be created, for infrastructure to be built and for a solid economy to be developed. Vote buying corrupts and distorts the most elementary part of electoral politics.
“In preparation for 2023, I call on Mr President to sign as early as this year, the electoral Act after due amendment has been done by the National Assembly. Gradual release of funds for INEC should begin with 2020 appropriation bill.
“The continuing failure and or sabotage of card reader should be checked and rechecked again. INEC should come out with a safe system. There is need to further improve on the efficiency and efficacy of card reader. Nigeria should take a second look at the electronic voting and electronic transmission of results,” some part of the text read.
The lecture is under the auspices of Prof BIC Ijeomah Centre for Public Policy & Research at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, UNN.